The Spirit of Discernment Four Benefits to Your Leadership
This is a guest post by James Ochuka. Mr. Ochuka is Certified Nurse Practitioner, Medical Director of TotalCare, and an ordained minister at The Living Well Church. James is also a certified leadership coach with the John Maxwell Company. "
- Wes Saade, M.D.
If someone handed you a blank check and asked you to write any amount you wish, how much would you write for yourself? Or what would you ask if someone who is able to do anything you desire challenged you with the following question: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you?”
I can only imagine what is going through your mind as you ponder these questions. The latter question was presented to one of the wisest leaders who ever lived, a leader whom the Bible reports spoke 3,000 proverbs, and whose songs numbered 1,005. He spoke about plant life, animals, birds, reptiles, and fish. Kings came to listen to this great leader. I believe you can guess who this leader was…
The Wisest Leader Who Ever Lived
The wisest leader who ever lived was King Solomon. When God told King Solomon he could ask for whatever he desired, Solomon’s response was not to ask for long life, wealth, or the death of his enemies. Instead he asked for a discerning spirit to govern and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
King Solomon’s answer catches my attention because of his extraordinary and unique response. How many leaders today would respond the same way? Likely very few because we are so preoccupied by what is going around us that we often forget the big picture. We are consumed with the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16(b)).
Four Benefits of the Spirit of Discernment
According to Merriam-Webster discernment is the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. Discernment can also be intuition or inner ability to understand an issue or matter. I believe with all my heart that for a leader to be effective he/she needs the gift of discernment.
Discernment helps a leader avoid some of the pitfalls of leadership. It helps a leader stay grounded and focused on the vision. This gift helps a leader stand out from the crowd. The benefits of having the Spirit of discernment are deep and wide. No wonder the wisest man who ever lived asked for it.
Here are four benefits for leaders who have the Spirit of discernment:
- Decision-making: On a daily basis every leader is faced with the challenge to make decisions for the organization, their family, or their personal life. We are all aware how our lives can be turned upside down by a single bad decision. The gift of discernment leads us to make healthy decisions that help us advance in the right direction. For example, King Solomon was faced with one of the greatest challenges to preside over a case between two women who had a dispute over a child. He overcame this challenge by wisely revealing the identity of the true mother.
- Sensitivity to others: People-skills are one of the most important attributes for a leader to possess because we deal with people in one way or another on a daily basis. I remember one afternoon my family and I were coming from church and decided to stop by a grocery store to buy some groceries. At the checkout counter the cashier had an attitude toward us. Suddenly she started mishandling our products. I was appalled by her attitude and demeanor, so I followed my first instinct to call for her manager. As soon as I did, something prompted me to ask her if she was okay? Suddenly I saw tears rolling down her cheeks. She responded with a feeble voice, “Today is my first day back after burying my son.” My heart sank. I did not say a word, but to ask her if we could pray with her. We left the store interceding and praying for her. Lord, give us the Spirit of discernment that we may not miss an opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life. Help me to seek to understand, then to be understood.
- Recognizing potential in others: One of my favorite definitions of leadership is influence. The only way we can influence other people is by seeing the potential hidden inside them. Everyone has a unique potential; the only way you can see and tap into that resource is through discernment. Jesus Christ, the ultimate leader, did not see people for their face value; He saw the potential inside them. When He called the fishermen to follow Him, he did not see them as fishermen, rather He saw the potential inside them. He saw them as world changers. No wonder His ministry was so effective that even after He left, the ministry is still growing strong. Remember He only hand-picked the twelve disciples, yet these men turned the world upside down. God will help us see the potential in others. 1 King 3:1 states that Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, King of Egypt, and married his daughter. He knew the task ahead of him was too huge and in order to accomplish it, he needed the help of other people. He was not only able to form an alliance, but also to choose the right staff for his palace.
- Confidence in your leadership: Confidence is a leader’s best asset. It is not automatic, but it develops over time. The way to develop confidence is by having a few wins under our belts. The wins can be achieved by making right decisions, having the right people on our team, and assigning or delegating responsibility based on people’s abilities, gifts, or potential. In the beginning we see King Solomon crying out to God for a discerning spirit because he was young and did not know how to lead. God granted him the desire of his heart, and other monarchs heard of his fame and sought for audience with him.
How Do We Gain Discernment?
Because of discernment, King Solomon was able to make the right decision, select the right people for his team, and see the potential in everyone on his team. He had great confidence to build his leadership profile to appoint other great leaders who came to seek counsel from him. How do we gain discernment?
1. Recognize the value of this gift or become aware of it.
2. Ask God to grant it to us, just like Solomon.
3. Be desperate for this gift. How bad do you want it?
“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
1 Kings 3:9